summary: River jumps out of a spaceship, and the Doctor's there to catch her.

characters: River/Eleven

warnings: au. spoilers all series.

disclaimer: fic•tion [fíksh'n]: literary works of imagination

author's notes: time line for reference on my profile page. special thank you to my lovely betas persiflage_1 and themirrorofsin.


there is something i stole;;


Soon as you can


When the words and coordinates appear on the psychic paper, almost burning a hole in his tweed jacket, he knows he'll be getting himself in trouble. But he can hardly not show up. River expects him to, and part of him does, too.

He opens the TARDIS doors, and notices immediately how he's parked on a solid piece of land, no hang on, they're moving— it's a space harbour. Right on cue he sees a door on one of the surrounding space ships getting blown off, and sure as day, River comes abseiling out of it. And there are men shooting at her. Of course there are men shooting at her.

"River!" he shouts as soon as her feet touch ground, and blimey she's fast, despite wearing high-heeled boots and the backpack—she's rushing towards him like some comic strip's action hero, dodging bullets as she goes. Bullets?— oh right, yes, bullets! He opens both the doors for River, and skips to the console again.

River lands on the floor with a hard thud, the doors creaking shut behind her. "These are not the coordinates I gave you," she growls, and gets up from the floor unevenly, the TARDIS shaking.

"Excuse me," the Doctor says offended, looking at River over his shoulder while he steers them away from danger and men with big guns. So yeah, the TARDIS might have landed somewhat further than River asked, but his ship has a bit of a mind of her own sometimes. And River knows that. "These are exactly the coordinates you— What are you wearing?" he asks, and frowns, turning around completely now, the heels of his boots squeaking on the glass floor beneath him.

"You like it?" River raises an eyebrow surreptitiously, and struts over to the central control column, putting her bag down under it, then twists on her feet, placing one hand in her side, hip jutting out.

"It's—" he hesitates, and consciously allows his eyes to take it all in longer than they really need to. River's outfit is something dark-red and tight, hugging her body in all the right places and he can find few thoughts straying towards anything negative. "Yeah." He's surprised to hear himself admit it. He's still staring at her from the corner of his eye, one hand casually in his pocket, while he flips a few switches. "Why were those men shooting at you?" he asks.

"Because I borrowed something that doesn't belong to me," River explains. She releases her hair from the pin holding it up, her long blonde curls cascading down the leathery outfit.

"And when you say borrowed—" his voice trails off.

River turns and smiles at him. "I mean stole."

"Why?" he asks, but only because he's interested, not because he's about to tell her that stealing (or the pejorative borrowing) is in any way wrong. What kind of hypocrite would that make him?

"Because it didn't belong to them to begin with."

"What is it?" he asks curiously. River digs down in her bag and holds up a blue orb the size of a tennis ball. He recognizes it instantly. It should be shining and slightly vibrating, but that's only in combination with the foot piece. And that's clearly not in River's bag. "River, that's a Titraphonic Regulator." He takes a cautious step towards her, and points. "You can't have that." He shakes his head, utterly and completely disapproving. He just helped her get away with stealing that?

"Can't I?" River asks casually, and places it back in her bag, as if it's an accessory.

"It's a Vvrekan Titraphonic Regulator. It supplies entire villages with everything from water to the rain to grow their crops. They'll die without it." He stresses the word, die, because can't she see? can't she realize? He's always known that River would have few scruples and dubious morals, but he'd never believed her to be a murderer. Well, mass murderer.

"I know," River says, but doesn't look up at him once. That's it, if talking sense into her won't help he'll have to fix things himself. He walks around to the next panel over and starts typing in River's coordinates again. After this, he'll drop her off at home. "What are you doing?" River asks, walking over to him fast.

"Taking you back," he says, and shifts the TARDIS into gear. "I won't allow you to destroy a civilization just so you can get paid."

River stares at him in bewilderment, her jaw going slightly slack. "Is that what you think of me?" Her eyes narrow on his face, and he'd almost say she was angry at him. Is he missing something obvious again? Wouldn't be the first time. "Is that what you really think?" her voice gains in strength, and now he's the one who can't look at her.

River moves to the panel to his right, and types in three commands on the keyboard. "River, don't you—" he starts, but it's too late; the TARDIS powers down as soon as River's finger hits the final key. That's the bloody second time she's shut him out of his own controls, how does she do that? Better yet, he sincerely hopes he's not the one who teaches her that in the future. It's bad enough she flies the ship better than him.

And then River takes off up the stairs. "Come back here this instant!" he shouts and takes off after her, because she took her bag with her. "River!" he shouts again, and hears her giggle behind him in the corridor. He turns and there she is, bag held behind her back, but leaning against the wall. He knows for a fact that if he tries to take the bag, she'll make him chase her throughout the entire ship.

So he just walks over to her, keeping a more-than-usual distance between them.

"Oh, my Doctor." She shakes her head as if she disapproves, but she still manages to smile. "I'm going to love the day you actually start listening to me."

"You stole a Titraphonic Regulator from the Vvrekan."

"That's not what I said." River stares at him, uncompromising, and takes a menacing step towards him. Right then, definitely missing something. But what? He's never told her this before, but River can be quite intimidating. Something he supposes she got from her engineer dad.

"Are you saying you didn't steal it?"

"Oh no, I stole it. From the Amtrax Vaults."

"Oh, don't be ridiculous, why would—" It's only then that he realizes, slapping him in the face in the form of River's rather smug look. "You stole it back," he says, suddenly impressed, and closes the distance between them to his usual disregard-for-other-people's-personal-space. He's only ever known her to do these sorts of things for money, not to save people. But then the one didn't necessarily exclude the other. "Why didn't you just tell me?"

River throws him a sly smile, and leans in even closer, trailing her fingers down the length of his jacket. "Maybe I like being chased," she smiles, and he feels the grin spread across his lips involuntarily. Or maybe she likes to prove him wrong and rubbing it in for good measure. Serves him right, he supposes, but that doesn't mean he has to like how it makes him feel. He's supposed to be the one who knows her better now, but he figures they're both at a point in their time streams where they both know just enough about each other. Enough to keep them coming back for more.

Of course he doesn't apologize for the misconception. He never apologizes.

River unlocks the TARDIS for him, and gives him new coordinates. She uses his phone to call her dad. "Dad?" River says, waiting for her father's reply on the other end. "Yeah, I've got it." So River's not the only Song who has a knack for breaking the law, the Doctor thinks. It makes so much sense. "We're on our way."

"We?" the Doctor asks bemused.

"Yes?" She makes it a question, and makes her way over to him. "Please?" Her eyes turn big and pleading, and her hands cling to his arm. "My Doctor?" she adds, and he feels his resolve melting. He was never one to resist these things anyway.

He plots the new course.

River kisses him softly on the cheek, but before moving back, her lips halt at his ear. "I've got this outfit in black too," she whispers, her breath hot against his skin.

He only tells her he preferred the red three months later, River's hand sneaking around his torso as she lays her head down on his chest; the black lies sprawled in pieces on the floor, starting from the doors of the TARDIS to River's sleeping quarters.

if you can, please let me know what you think!